A bright red fire engine could be seen in the parking lot of the Country Hills Library on a cold Sunday afternoon. But, this was no ordinary call.

Two of Calgary’s finest stopped by the library for Firefighter Storytime, a new partnership between the Calgary Fire Department and Calgary Public Library that brings the city’s emergency crews to read stories and talk about fire safety to local children and families.

Calgary Journal reporter, Stephanie Hagenaars, attended the library event herself to hear a few stories and check out the program.

Video produced by Stephanie Hagenaars

Lt. Gordon Toothe was one of the firefighters to leave the station and sit with a group of families last February. After a quick introduction, Lt. Toothe kicked-off the afternoon event by reading the children’s book I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean.

“We’re about, obviously, having a healthy, safe community,” he told the Calgary Journal. “This is one way we can do that — reaching out to the people and being where the people are at. I really like it.”

Firefighter Storytime replaced the old Engine 23 partnership program, a decommissioned fire truck installation at the old Central Library, donated by the fire department in 2016, which hosted firefighter storytimes and allowed children to play on-board. When construction of the new Central Library began, Engine 23 was moved into storage and the new, expanded storytime program was established.
Toothe copyFirefighter Lieutenant Gordon Toothe laughs as he reads a children’s book called Chicken Butt at a Firefighter Storytime event at the Country Hills Public Library. The event runs on Sundays at 2 p.m. at various library locations throughout Calgary. Photo by Stephanie Hagenaars
A recent study showed a relation between extended screen time and the delay of developmental targets for children, such as motor skills, language and communication. Shauna May, manager, service delivery at the Country Hills Public Library, said while it is a parent’s decision to have screen time with the kids, the library does like to emphasize books and reading.

May added that having community firefighters visit the library adds to the excitement of early learning and literacy in children.

“It’s just really great for kids to be able to see community helpers in a new light,” she said. “To see the firefighters down on their level, showing them the pants and the jacket and reading them a book, is just a really good value-added partnership for us at the library.”
Library audience copyLocal children and families gathered at the Country Hills Public Library for Firefighter Storytime, a new program offered through the Calgary Fire Department and Calgary Public Library. During the half hour event, local firefighters read to children and families, answer questions about fire safety and, weather permitting, will tour a working fire engine. Photo by Stephanie Hagenaars
Firefighter Storytime is held on Sunday afternoons until June at two library locations at the city. Each location is chosen based on their proximity to local fire stations. For a full list of dates and locations, visit the library’s program website.

Editor: Brian Cortez | mcortez@cjournal.ca

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